The benefits of gamification trace back to the roots of play
Are play and productivity mutually exclusive? As most pet owners are likely to confirm, the play behaviors our puppies and kittens mimic hunting, scrapping, and fighting.
Russian scientist, Dmitri Mendeleev – the 19th-century scientist who came up with the Periodic Table of Elements – was one of the first scientists to examine the benefits of play. It’s thought to have played a role in conceiving the Periodic Table.
As the history books have it, Mendeleev was quite the card player. Somewhere along his quest for understanding, he started using cards to categorize the elements. From there, he turned the cards into a game that helped wrap his mind around the relationship between the elements. In this case, putting gamification to use changed the world.
Gamification – an ancient practice, with a new buzzword
Play is learning. That’s its primary function, and why it’s so darn fun. While there are some things natural selection has shaped us to overindulge in, the natural rewards for play still lead us down an advantageous route. While it might sound like a cheesy public service announcement, learning really should be fun.
Gamification applies gaming principles to make learning more engaging. For example, video games are being developed that allow players to conduct scientific research, or to learn skills that are applied beyond the game. Such techniques exploit our natural inclinations to engage and learn through real-world experience.
Why gamification is here to stay
Few concepts pack-in as much intuitive understanding of gamification – who doesn’t want to make learning fun? The problem is we tend to consider the two experiences – fun and productivity – as mutually exclusive. The fact of the matter is, nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s why:
- Gamification promotes learning. Aside from the fun-factor, the repetitive actions of a game have a significant impact on learning. Both the repetition of behaviors and intellectual engagement increases retention.
- It’s versatile. Gamification can be applied to a wide variety of skills and functionality. Non-game activities, or training courses, can have game mechanics applied. This means that game objectives equate to learning or the execution of tasks. Gamification has been employed in corporate settings for professional training, regulation compliance, product training, and social collaboration.
- Gamification increases engagement. One thing about games is they’re addictive. When work and learning become a game, even less desirable jobs are fun.
Games and performance go hand and hand
On a primal level, the most basic point of engaging in a game is to test your ability to perform. Explosive sound effects, extra players, and tallying up points are all ways video games reflect a player’s performance. It’s also what keeps them coming back for more.
Employee engagement is crucial to quality. However, if you don’t share the results of their work with employees, you’re effectively taking away the cool sound effects and dopamine-producing point tallies.
Simply displaying performance statistics, topped up with a sprinkle of incentives, can put a gamification spin on work duties. However, performance-based rewards can be tricky terrain
If you’re considering exploring that route, our Employee Engagement Blog article, “The Key to Employee Engagement Is Measuring Their Impact” can help set you on a path to success.